“Major value fashion anchor” for MetroCentre Woolies site

Primark fascia. Photograph by Graham Soult

Primark fascia

MetroCentre’s empty Woolworths site is poised to get a new occupant, according to the mall’s majority owners, and is set to be trading by the middle of next year.

Capital Shopping Centres’ interim management statement for the period 1 July to 3 November 2010, released last week, reveals that “a major value fashion anchor is close to exchange in the former Woolworths store at MetroCentre, Gateshead, with a target opening of July 2011.”

It continues: “Along with the opening in September [2010] of the first combined TK Maxx/Homesense store [as blogged about here], this would enhance CSC’s anchor store strategy for the centre.”

Former Woolworths at MetroCentre (5 Oct 2009). Photograph by Graham Soult

Former Woolworths at MetroCentre (5 Oct 2009)

The news all but confirms the rumours that Primark is set to relocate from its single-storey Cameron Walk unit – formerly Littlewoods – to the enlarged Woolworths site in Garden Walk. In May, planners approved an application from The MetroCentre Partnership for a 17,405 sq ft extension to the unit, increasing its size, across two floors, to 60,000 sq ft.

This reconfigured unit is similar in size to the upcoming Next store, in the CSC-owned Eldon Square, which the statement also reveals is “on target for a December 2010 handover enabling an Easter 2011 retail opening.”

Assuming that the Primark move is confirmed – and there are few other retailers that would fit the bill of a “major value fashion anchor” – attention will surely turn to who might take over the freed-up Primark site. However, with the expanding Swedish retailer Clas Ohlson already trading or signed up in four of CSC’s 13 shopping centres – and planning to open, in the longer term, up to 200 UK shops – a MetroCentre unit of the right size and configuration could well be on its radar.

Graham Soult

Retail consultant, writer, blogger; helping retailers via CannyInsights.com and CannySites.com. Say hello on Twitter at @soult!

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